En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Tuesday - September 28, 2010

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Pollenless Cedar Elms for Georgetown, Texas
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus

QUESTION:

I am considering planting the Cedar Elm tree at my home in Georgetown, Texas. I was under the impression that only the female of the species produces the irritating pollen. Is this true?

ANSWER:

No, pollen is a guy thing.  Pollen contains the male gametes and is analogous to sperm in animals.   Females produce the irritating things known as kids. (For plants, the strategy is to produce them as seeds and not have to incubate them internally for nine months.)  Plants can be him (male) or her (female) or them (both male and female)."Them" kinds of plants can be further divided into those who have both male and female flowers and those who have flowers that contain both male and female parts.  The latter are called bisexual, hermaphroditic or perfect flowers. When flowers of both sexes are on the same plant, it is called monoecious. When the sexes are on two different plants, the species is described as dioecious.

Ulmus crassifolia (Cedar elms) are wonderful shade trees.  They are recommended as a good substitute for oaks since they don’t get oak wilt. I love their yellow fall color. They are used by lots of different wildlife. Their flowers are perfect and are wind pollinated.  They bloom in late summer and fall - usually August to October and their pollen does cause allergies in some people.  Here is more information on them.

So in addition to having perfect flowers, I think it is a pretty perfect tree.

I'm wondering if maybe you are thinking about the pollen problems with Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper), a.k.a. cedar. These trees ARE dioecious and the cedar pollen is profuse and will travel long distances.  And of course, there are lots of them. This is the pollen that causes the most allergy trouble in central Texas. But it's the guys plants causing the problem.  The girls have the pretty berries.

 

 

More Trees Questions

Apparent disease in peach tree in Austin
June 12, 2008 - I have a peach tree that the leaves are "bleeding" out on. The leaves are continuing to get paler and paler. There are no peaches on the tree this year either. What can I do?
view the full question and answer

Growing Chilopsis in Florida
July 25, 2013 - I live in St. Johns County, FL between Jacksonville and St Augustine. I live inland, not near the beach. I bought a small desert willow plant in Victoria, TX and brought it back to FL to grow. I plan ...
view the full question and answer

Controlling a shrub/tree with lots of thorns and flowers similar to beebrush, but lots of thorns
July 08, 2014 - I live in Horseshoe Bay, Llano County with 1.5 acres of natural habitat. There is a plant that I have always called Cat's Claw but in researching Cat's Claw, I may have misidentified it. It has a fl...
view the full question and answer

Trees for townhome backyard in Fullerton, CA
August 15, 2009 - Hi, I live in a townhome with a big backyard here in Orange County. Last year, I got rid of my ficus trees that had grown too tall and big for a townhome backyard. Now, I would like to plant two tre...
view the full question and answer

Trees blooming white in Austin area
March 16, 2010 - 3/16/10 What are the trees that are blooming white in the Austin area. They are a full tree and very prolific in the area.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center